The harmonised area
The vast majority of construction products placed on the market must be CE marked before they can be marketed, sold and used in EU and EEA member states. This applies to all construction products covered by a harmonised standard or a European Technical Assessment (ETA) issued under the Construction Products Regulation.
The Construction Products Regulation lays down a set of harmonised rules and conditions that must be met before construction products can be traded or made available on the market, setting out requirements concerning descriptions of the performance and main characteristics of construction products, as well as rules regarding the use of CE marks on such products. The purpose of the Regulation is to reduce the costs connected with cross-border trade in the EU and to make such trade easier.
The harmonised European Standards (hEN) issued under the Regulation are prepared by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) at the request of the European Commission. The harmonised standards contain product-related requirements for the performance and use of specific products. They are based on the general requirements and the framework set out in the Construction Products Regulation (CPR).
There is thus a close relationship between the requirements of the CPR and the standards set out in the Regulation.
The CPR requires that construction products covered by a harmonised standard or an ETA must be CE marked in accordance with the provisions of the Regulation before they can be placed on the market in the EU.
Harmonised standards are particularly important in the building and construction sector, as compliance with them is mandatory for manufacturers, and they should therefore be regarded as requirements.
Up to 80% of all construction products must be CE marked. The European Commission publishes a list in the Official Journal of the European Union with references to harmonised standards that comply with the relevant mandates.
Official Journal of the European Union
CE marking can be regarded as an agreement of trust between public authorities and industry. The CE mark indicates that the characteristics of the construction product marked have been assessed according to uniform rules and that the product can therefore be freely traded in the extended Single Market without having to meet any further requirements for national testing and approval. However, the mark cannot be regarded as a quality label, as is the case for other product categories.
The issuing of an ETA is a voluntary option that can be used to obtain CE marking for a construction product where there is no relevant harmonised standard.
The CE mark can be described as informative labelling of a construction product and must be substantiated by documents specifying the product’s performance. A construction product with a CE mark can be freely marketed and sold throughout the European Union. The Construction Products Regulation requires the manufacturer to provide the following information to consumers:
- The actual CE mark including essential performance characteristics and references
- A declaration of performance (DoP)
- Information in Danish, for example a user’s manual, assembly instructions and safety information
- In very special circumstances also a safety data sheet as required under the REACH Regulation
All documents must follow the construction products from the manufacturer or from the entity that places the construction product on the market through importers and distributors, making it available to customers such as contractors, technical consultants and construction clients.
Together with the declaration of performance, the CE mark provides an overview of a construction product’s ability to perform for a specific purpose.
In Denmark, the declaration of performance must be in Danish or English, but instructions such as the user manual, assembly instructions and safety information must always be in Danish.
As a general rule, the CE mark must be placed on the construction products. However, in some cases the CE mark may be placed on the packaging or may be given in accompanying documents. The declaration of performance may be provided in the form of an electronic reference, for example a reference to a website.
The CE mark and the declaration of performance can make it easier for a customer to assess whether the characteristics of a specific construction product make it suitable for use in a construction project and whether the construction product matches a client’s specifications in an order for customised work.
The declaration of performance forms the basis for the CE marking.
For some types of construction products it is a requirement that, as a supplement to the manufacturer’s own production control, a conformity assessment and/or certification body (notified body) monitors the process.
A CE mark should not be regarded as a quality label. Even if a construction product carries the CE mark there may be national building regulations which mean that a construction product may not be used, or may only to a limited extent be used, in buildings and structures in Denmark.
In principle, all construction products are covered by the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), but national legislation concerning the marketing and sale of the products may apply. One example is construction products that come into contact with drinking water.
The Construction Products Regulation is based on seven fundamental requirements applying to buildings:
1. Mechanical resistance and stability
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that the loadings that are liable to act on them dur-ing their construction and use will not lead to any of the following:
(a) collapse of the whole or part of the work;
(b) major deformations to an inadmissible degree;
(c) damage to other parts of the construction works or to fittings or installed equipment as a result of major de-formation of the load-bearing construction;
(d) damage by an event to an extent disproportionate to the original cause.
2. Safety in case of fire
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that in the event of an outbreak of fire:
(a) the load-bearing capacity of the construction can be assumed for a specific period of time;
(b) the generation and spread of fire and smoke within the construction works are limited;
(c) the spread of fire to neighbouring construction works is limited;
(d) occupants can leave the construction works or be res-cued by other means;
(e) the safety of rescue teams is taken into consideration
3. Hygiene health and the environment
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that they will, throughout their life cycle, not be a threat to the hygiene or health and safety of workers, occupants or neighbours, nor have an exceedingly high impact, over their entire life cycle, on the environmental quality or on the climate during their construction, use and demolition, in particular as a result of any of the following:
(a) the giving-off of toxic gas;
(b) the emission of dangerous substances, volatile organic compounds (VOC), greenhouse gases or dangerous particles into indoor or outdoor air;
(c) the emission of dangerous radiation;
(d) the release of dangerous substances into ground wa-ter, marine waters, surface waters or soil;
(e) the release of dangerous substances into drinking wa-ter or substances which have an otherwise negative impact on drinking water;
(f) faulty discharge of waste water, emission of flue gases or faulty disposal of solid or liquid waste;
(g) dampness in parts of the construction works or on sur-faces within the construction works
4. Safety and access during use
The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that they do not present unacceptable risks of accidents or damage in service or in operation such as slipping, falling, collision, burns, electrocution, injury from explosion and burglaries. In particular, construction works must be designed and built taking into consideration accessibility and use for disabled persons.
5. Protection against noise
6. Energy economy and heat retention
The construction works and their heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation installations must be designed and built in such a way that the amount of energy they require in use will be low, when account is taken of the occupants and of the climatic conditions of the location. Construction works must also be energy-efficient, using as little energy as possible during their construction and dismantling.
7. Sustainable use of natural resources
The construction works must be designed, built and demolished in such a way that the use of natural resources is sustainable and in particular ensure the following:
(a) reuse or recyclability of the construction works, their materials and parts after demolition;
(b) durability of the construction works;
(c) use of environmentally compatible raw and secondary materials in the construction works.
The new seventh fundamental sustainability requirement has not been applicable to date, as no method to define the relevant technical requirements to be included in the harmonised standards had been defined. However, the requirement has now been adopted and will be applicable once the harmonised standards have been revised on the instruction of the European Commission.
As the drafting of new standards and the revision of standards already adopted have come to a standstill, the European Commission has announced that a revision of the Construction Products
Regulation and the harmonised standards already in place is needed. Until such revision has been completed, the harmonised standards currently in force will remain the basis of CE marking.
National legislation in the field of building and construction focuses on buildings in their entirety, whereas the Construction Products Regulation concerns individual construction products that can be placed on the market and subsequently used in buildings.
There may be national building regulations that set out special requirements for the use of a construction product for a specific purpose in a building or structure. Such regulations mean that the construction product in question may only be used to a limited extent in a member state.